Guide to difficult conversations with staff

Prepare yourself for challenging conversations with staff by following our tips on how to give feedback, develop questioning skills and practice active listening, so you can approach your meetings with confidence.

Last reviewed on 15 October 2021
School types: AllSchool phases: AllRef: 4074
  1. How you respond will depend on the topic
  2. Preparing for the meeting 
  3. Tips for effective feedback
  4. Apply effective questioning skills
  5. Practice active listening 
  6. Use our template to record your meeting notes

How you respond will depend on the topic

There's a variety of topics that may lead to challenging conversations, for example to:

  • Address poor performance or conduct
  • Deal with personal problems
  • Investigate complaints/deal with grievances
  • Comfort or reassure someone – for example, if they're going to be made redundant
  • Tackle personality clashes
  • Deal with potentially delicate situations, such as turning down requests for annual leave or to work flexibly

For all of the above, you'll want to respond to the issue with an informal chat first, before arranging a meeting, so you can check in on how the staff member is feeling, which may in turn bring up underlying issues. You can use a system of welfare checks to understand how your staff are doing, address problems and provide any support they need. 

Preparing for

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